EVANSTON – U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior, presided over a congressional hearing in Evanston on regulatory threats to livestock operations in Wyoming and throughout the west.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) also presided over the hearing, where witnesses detailed threats emanating from Department of Labor-proposed regulations on woolgrowers, the Administration’s use of the Endangered Species Act, federal water grabs, and stifling litigation financed with federal tax dollars.
“Wyoming’s livestock community faces threats to their livelihood on numerous fronts, and all signs lead back to Washington,” said Chairman Lummis. “The people we heard from at the hearing are the people keeping our land healthy, productive, and sustainable for future generations.
“As a life-long rancher, I can tell you we don’t just work the land, we love the land and we pour our souls into it,” the Representative continued. “We have the most to lose when the Federal government makes unworkable rules that, however well-intentioned, hurt the on-the-ground stewards of the natural resources we all care about. Congress needs to give these hardworking people relief from the federal regulatory barrage.”
“Ideally governments should be involved in helping people succeed,” said Chairman Bishop. “From our witnesses today it is very clear that federal rules and regulations are harming people, making it impossible for them to succeed in providing a livelihood for themselves and their families. This is not the proper role of government, and if the Administration’s rules are going to harm people, congress has got to step up and try to fix it.”
“By law, military uniforms must be made from domestic wool producers. Where are our men and women of the Armed Forces going to get their uniforms if the Department of Labor puts us out of business?” – Pat O’Toole, Wyoming rancher and President of the Family Farm Alliance.
“This new requirement of the special procedures will reduce the number of employers that can use the H2A program, but their labor needs will remain the same, and again with no American workers to fill those jobs, they will be forced to sell their flocks” said Shaun Sims, Wyoming rancher, President of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, and the Wyoming Woolgrowers Public Lands Committee Chairman.
“I represent the citizens that may not necessarily be the defendants in litigation between radical environmental groups and the federal government, but who absolutely feel the heavy consequences of endless litigation,” Wyoming rancher and attorney at Budd-Falen Law Offices in Cheyenne Karen Budd-Falen explained.
“Adding insult to injury, my clients, friends and family not only have to live with the excessive regulatory burdens, but also have to pay the litigation fees to feed the litigation machine,” Falen added.
“They are seeking to exercise greater control over the public lands including restricting access, limiting grazing rights and seeking ownership of livestock water rights,” noted Utah Farm Bureau Federation CEO Randy Parker about several recent federal actions.
“These detrimental actions are seemingly without regard for the history, culture and economics as required by federal laws including the Federal Land Policy Management Act.” – Utah Farm Bureau Federation CEO Randy Parker.
“It is a story that is hard to tell, partly because it is hard to believe we have so far from when the livestock industry on public lands was relatively stable,” said Elko County (NV) Commissioner Demar Dahl. “Especially in my state of Nevada where 87% of the State belongs to the Federal Government, a stable environment on public lands is essential for a ranch family to survive, let alone prosper.”
Click here to view written testimony submitted by the witnesses.